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Rock: Then and Now..by Vrinda Ravi Kumar

Music has always been a major influence for the youth. It’s a powerful vocalisation, a great platform, besides being, well, music.
It’s pretty sad that recently the music scene worldwide seems to have stagnated.The 90s and post 2000 period saw the spawning of many new artists and
a wave of experimental genres that didn’t really get a unified name,                        
but were instrumental in the further agitation of bands that fell into
accepted classification, while themselves bringing about revolution in
music. Compared to the rock and blues scene that developed alternative
to the folk and saxophone sounds of the 60s and the rebellion and
anger that fueled the 80s in terms of hard rock, metal and growing
hip-hop, this large variety of artists and bands made the 90s
undefinable in terms of a single emotion or genre. The divisions did
grow clearer.
This time has reverted to the pop culture, like the 60s, but without
the promise of the further development of rock, according to some.
2011 top artists include Adele, Foster The People, Lady Gaga, Katy
Perry, Nicki Minaj (billboard.com) all of whom show a progressive
preference to pop.The return of Maroon 5 with ‘Hands All Over’ is
probably a small glitch in this otherwise seamless movement towards
pop, though they show a very strong element of pop in their music.

There is a small spattering of rock music that does exist today. There
are many bands that aren’t very widely recognized, and some have
mostly singles to their credit. A few top rock songs today are, thanks
to toprocksongs.net and Wikipedia –

  1. ‘Rope’ – Foo Fighters (headed by the drummer of grunge band Nirvana, Dave Grohl)
  2. ‘Help Is On The Way’ – Rise Against The Machines
  3. ‘Shake Me Down’ – Cage The Elephant
  4. ‘The Cave’ – Mumford & Sons
  5. ‘My Body’ – Young The Giant

It’s very difficult to define rock as a genre, primarily because of
the massive variations in the multiple sub-genres that spawned from
it. However, the roots of rock can be traced back to the 1940s and
1950s R&B and ‘Rock and Roll’. The ‘Roll’ part of it, the pop half of
the phrase was later done away with, when the two bifurcated into
distinct genres. Rock then began to draw influences from country
music, jazz, a lot of blues and some classical instrumental techniques
were developed further, slowly evolving to become exclusively used in
rock.

The wide popularity and the growing number of devout fans of rock was
also helped along by rock coming to endorse certain idealogies and
emotions, making it easier to identify with, and to unify enitre
communities that lived thousands of miles apart. This was no ordinary
power, and rock shot to the position of being more than a genre of
music. It became a lifestyle and philosophy.

The period of the progression of rock from the 60s to the 80s is
nothing short of epic. Thoughts were played and voices were heard, and
people realised what was wrong. Tradition was questioned and
deviations started appearing. Rock transcended to more than music, and
people clung to the idea rock and its players represented. With time,
soft rock became hard rock. Hard rock became heavy metal. Punk rock
rose to power (with the Sex Pistols and the Ramones), along with heavy
metal (Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Diamond Head, Vardis,
virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteem), ingraining itself into pop culture as
well, to the extent that post punk turned out to be a major sub-genre
(The Who, Frank Zappa, The Velvet Underground). While all this
occupied mainstream attention, alternative rock started developing
slowly, but steadily.

The 1990s were a good, solid grounding and expansion of rock, and the
development of many more sub-genres like grunge (Nirvana, Pearl Jam,
Soundgarden, Alice in Chains), indie rock (The Cranberries,
Superchunk), pop punk (Weezer, Pennywise, Green Day), alternative
metal (Pantera, Sepultura, Nine Inch Nails) and nu metal (Limp Bizkit,
Korn, Linkin Park, Staind), along with many crossover acts between rap
and rock (RHCP, Rage Against the Machine, Kid Rock) ensured that the
alternative music of the 80s were alternative no more and shot to
mainstream popularity. Many English bands also emerged in a genre
called ‘Britpop’ (wikipedia.com), the most popular of which is
unquestionably Coldplay (debuted with their album ‘Parachutes’ in
2000).

While the post millenium mark did come up with many new sounds
(retrometal, contemporary heavy metal, metalcore), many argue that
none of these genres can be identified as ‘rock’ seeing as the roots
of rock cannot be heard in the music. Others argue that the decade is
probably just a sleepy one, and we’re due for another revolutionary
movement in the music industry to sweep the world and all rock needs
is an “artist with something different, with more of the tradition of
the foundations of rock — great melodies and songwriting, hard guitars
and a kick-ass kind of attitude.” Elliot Wilson (founder and CEO of
Rap Radar).

As of now rap is ruling the worldwide music and rock is surviving only
through its derivatives. What rock needs right now is a band “with a
dynamic frontman, that has a sound that can capture the imagination of
millions” (Gil Kaufman). While 2011 did have many acts from rockers
lined up, like U2, Blink 182, RHCP, Radiohead, Coldplay and the Foo
Fighters, what we’re looking for is for an act to dramatically change
thought and bring together the stratified lovers of rock music all in
one huge community. That is a lot to ask for, but to top something as
powerful and revolutionary as the uprising of rock, the re-revival of
rock will be no walk in the park.

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